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Parasite loss and introduced species: a comparison of the parasites of the Puerto Rican tree frog, (Eleutherodactylus coqui), in its native and introduced ranges

Abstract

The Puerto Rican frog, Eleutherodactylus coqui has invaded Hawaii and reached densities far exceeding those in their native range. One possible explanation for the success of E. coqui in its introduced range is that it lost its co-evolved parasites in the process of the invasion. We compared the parasites of E. coqui in its native versus introduced range. We collected parasite data on 160 individual coqui frogs collected during January-April 2006 from eight populations in Puerto Rico and Hawaii. Puerto Rican coqui frogs had higher species richness of parasites than Hawaiian coqui frogs. Parasite prevalence and intensity were significantly higher in Hawaii, however this was likely a product of the life history of the dominant parasite and its minimal harm to the host. This suggests that the scarcity of parasites may be a factor contributing to the success of Eleutherodactylus coqui in Hawaii.

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Acknowledgements

We thank J. Bettaso for assistance in the field and frog dissections, M. Dohm for assistance with statistical analysis, S. Nadler, H. Meija-Madrid, C. Bursey, and V. McKenzie for parasite identifications, C. Atkinson, M. deMaintenon, and two anonymous reviewers for comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. Financial support was provided by grants from USDA under CSREES Special Grant 2004-31435-15168, managed by the Tropical/Subtropical Agricultural Research (T-STAR) Pacific Basin Administration Group (PBAG), the County of Hawaii, the National Science Foundation (Grant DEB-0445267), and the Society of Sigma Xi. Frogs in Puerto Rico were collected in accordance with Departmento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales Scientific Collection permit number 05-IC-055. Frog collections within the Caribbean National Forest were done so in accordance with U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Temporary Special Use Permit number CNF-2076. Frogs in Hawaii were collected in accordance with Hawaii Department of Agriculture Possession permit number H-PL67. Animals were handled in accordance with protocols issued by the University of Hawaii’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

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Correspondence to Shenandoah R. Marr.

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Marr, S.R., Mautz, W.J. & Hara, A.H. Parasite loss and introduced species: a comparison of the parasites of the Puerto Rican tree frog, (Eleutherodactylus coqui), in its native and introduced ranges. Biol Invasions 10, 1289–1298 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-007-9203-0

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-007-9203-0

Keywords

  • Anuran
  • Eleutherodactylus coqui
  • Enemy Release Hypothesis
  • Invasive
  • Parasite